We Get It: Calling Phones From Our Computers Will Be Damn Cheap

from the so-now-what? dept

Last week the story spread pretty quickly that Yahoo was launching integrated PC-to-phone calls (and vice versa) through their instant messenger program. The official press release should be popping out of Santa Clara in a few hours, but to make the story more interesting, Microsoft has timed it to announce their own version, based on their Teleo acquisition and a deal with MCI. At first glance, the Microsoft announcement falls short in almost every way to Yahoo's. Yahoo's prices are going to be less than half of Microsoft's (and Skype's) and rather than working with just one provider (MCI), it appears Yahoo is leveraging relationships with a number of different telco providers, giving them more flexibility. Still, these are just the early positioning moves before the big battle which has yet to come. The real question is whether any of these providers can really make their VoIP offering into a true platform -- opening up a real API to let others build voice into more applications, even (gasp!) competitors' applications. From what we've seen so far, it appears the early focus is on using voice to drive more people in as a destination site -- even when that makes very little sense. It's not surprising, but it means there's still a ways to go before we see some of the innovation that will eventually come out of all this. In the meantime, these two announcements, both of which everyone should have seen from about 50,000 miles away, should increase the head scratching over the amount of cash eBay threw at Skype. The battle over next generation voice offerings is just starting. It's not about cheap calls, though the press will go through that phase. For people not calling internationally who have big flat rate plans or unlimited calling, "cheap calls" aren't particularly appealing. The real battle is about how VoIP lets people do things they couldn't do before -- and we're only scratching the surface of that. Update: Even the smaller players are using today as the day. Apparently the Gizmo Project/SIPphone is also announcing their PC-to-phone offering, which looks to match Yahoo's pricing of one cent/minute. These price battles will obscure the real war for a while.
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  1. identicon
    Andrew Strasser, 13 Dec 2005 @ 8:58am

    Re: If only VoIP truly worked.

    If you've truely seen the antiquated systems running most of our towns switching you'd probably eat those words. I worked for awhile repairing the old antiquated switches for the phones in town. The stuff was literally out of a 1970's electronics textbook wires and everything. Our phone systems are going through massive upgrades which could drive the prices of using the phone much higher. We have to find an alternate solution because 75% of the nation can't afford to switch over to new digital switching solutions and the old boards aren't made anymore. Should be interesting to see how the next ten yrs. work themselves out.

    It used to be easy to make calls from your computer. I don't understand what happened here. Maybe my mind has went to flubber, however I distinctly remember more than 5 yrs. ago using a headset w/ mic because my friends had cable but no telephone. I think many people have had the woll pulled over their eyes in this whole ordeal. Those dialers disappear or something? It would however be nice to forward calls to your broadband device in the future.

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